Listening is Better Than Debating: Randal Rauser


(Randy) #1

In this blog, Randal Rauser arguest that listening is better than debating because

  1. It leads to understanding
  2. Creates trust
  3. Improves likelihood the other will listen to you.

I’d be interested in your comments. This is not for Christian apologetics only, but for any interaction.


(Christy Hemphill) #2

“Too often, the consummate debater misses nuances in her interlocutor’s views because she has not taken the time truly to understand them. As a result, she instead ends up directing a battery of arguments at a position which may be some distance from her interlocutor’s actual views.”

I see that a lot here. But it is hard that most of the dialogue on forums like this takes place outside the context of genuine human relationships and actual human presence. It is harder to “listen” and “be present” to words on a screen than when you are interacting with a person with a face, and body language, and tone, and all those other cues that help us zero in on the humanity and the potential struggle behind the words.


(Randy) #3

I think a lot of misunderstandings would clear up if we were able to discuss things in person, as much as discourse online is a valuable format for learning and exchanging ideas. I remember George Macdonald’s book “Malcolm,” where a young man confidently asserts that his grandfather, who is blind, would not hate his old enemy at all if he could look into his eyes. It was probably true. There was double meaning in that story, however, because the two men were surrounded by flippant, seeing people who still disdained their brothers. Typical deep Macdonald stuff–have you read this, @Mervin_Bitikofer? Michael Phillips adapted it out of the Scottish to two volumes, “The Marquis’ Secret’” and “The Fisherman’s Lady.” My other favorite of his novels is “Sir Gibbie,” adapted as “The Baronet’s Song.”


(Christy Hemphill) #4

I read the Michael Phillips versions in high school. Loved them.


(Randy) #5

I found a good example of a friendly discussion to be between Dawkins and McGrath at

Also the discussion between Rauser and Skydive Phil on animal suffering that I just posted on another thread.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

I have not read any of those, Randy. But your recommendation carries a lot of weight.


(system) #7

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